[BOOK REVIEW] ”Careful what you ask the wind.” //The Near Witch by V.E. Schwab//

There are no strangers in the town of Near.

Until a stranger arrives. No signs. No warning. He sets foot in this old town full of old people set in their old ways and all of a sudden, the wind shifts it’s course.

Faint voices intertwined with the howling wind – as if lamenting it’s loss of attentive listeners. It wants to tell you a story. A story that’s as old as Near itself. A story of a misunderstood but powerful soul and it’s soul’s thirst for revenge.

Are you willing to listen?

I sat in the front yard – with my back propped up on one of those black chairs that my dad keep with such care, and legs straightened on the other. The wind that started in the rusting leaves found it’s powerful way into my open hair. It felt as if the driving force of the book I was holding in my hands had crawled into my world, and it was just the beginning.

The Near Witch had come.
Or had I gone to meet her?
Was I in the town of Near?
Or was it in me?

Honestly? I don’t even know. All I cared about was the fact that there was this strange music all around me – the wind was singing and the words were compelling. THAT was the power this book held over my mind, even my surroundings.

From the very first page itself, I was left in awe of the way Schwab played tricks on me – her hauntingly lyrical prose and the world she created were so convincing that for the time being, nothing existed other than me, the town of Near, and it’s people.

”Nothing good grows out of fear.”

Fear is a strange thing.

It has the power to make you act in ways you never even contemplated of. But while it may be true for some, others see it as an opportunity to finally let out all those horrible urges that they have been holding on for far too long. And that’s what happens when one by one, the children of this moor bound town start disappearing. People’s ignorance and unwillingness to at least try to understand a point of view that goes against their idea of what’s ”NORMAL” ignites the fire of chaos and fear feeds it until it becomes uncontrollably large and dangerous.

And all of it must come down to that mysterious stranger that ”vanishes in thin air.”
Does he?
Doesn’t he?
How can we know for SURE?!

”He’s a ghost.”

”No such thing as a ghost. He’s a halfling – part man, part crow.”

Rumors and lies start spreading all around and everyone decides to take the course that’s of the least inconvenience to them. And all of this – for what? JUST TO KEEP THEIR OWN PASTS HIDDEN.

Yes. A LOT of happens IN the story, as it goes on. But let me also tell you what happens OUT of it.

You see it’s one thing to follow the characters – especially such strong and determined ones as Lexibut it’s a whole another thing to actually BE them, to lose yourself in their struggles and actions that you experience the same changes that THEY go through. ALL OF THAT is what happens seemingly away from the hustle and bustle of the ongoing plot

because it happens in oneself;
it happens IN THE HEART AND THE MIND.

Lexi was someone who believed in what she did and did what she had ABSOLUTE AND UNWAVERING FAITH IN. She was so in touch with the gifts that the moor – the nature – had bestowed on her that it was a delightful experience to just BE ON THE JOURNEY WITH HER.

The way the whole story is structured and written is additive BEYOND MY EXPECTATIONS!! What started as a love affair with the cover soon made me realize that the TRUE beauty of this book lay deep within it’s heart, in it’s very core – and I could not have been more pleased!

Page after page, I could feel myself becoming more and more emotionally invested in Lexi and Cole’s relationship. Theirs was an attachment that was given time to flourish as naturally as a little rose bud spreading it’s petalled wings delicately and unapologetically FOR ALL TO SEE AND ADMIRE AND FALL IN LOVE WITH IT!

COLE, though! I fell for him. Ached for him. Rooted for him. I did it ALL for him and Lexi. AND OH MY GOD! The more I fell for him, the more I feared that he would be taken away from me! 😦

BUT WAS HE?

WHAT HAPPENED EXACTLY –
To the Near Witch that she had to unleash her wrath upon the village?
To the people of Near who were so rigidly set in their – borderline idiotic – ways?
To Lexi and Cole who were thrown into circumstances they SHOULD NOT have had to deal with so young?
AND ABOVE ALL –

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO YOU ONCE YOU DECIDE TO PICK UP THIS GORGEOUS BOOK?

I’ll let you find all of that out o your own. But, always remember –

“Properly buried.”
“Properly kept.”
“That is the way with witches.”
“And with all things.”

And disrespected bodies often give rise to vengeful bones that lay their roots deep and infect the land with their hatred and anger.

[MY BOOKISH OBSESSIONS] The Story that Stole OUR HEARTS and NEVER Gave it Back //Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone//

”NO POSTS ON SUNDAYS!!” – probably the last sentence Mr Dursley ever uttered with joy!

High school finals + my copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone hidden behind THAT BIG BULKY Biology book, which merely served as a decoy to fool mumma! ;p

I didn’t get to read Harry Potter as a kid but the magic was just the same even at seventeen which was when I experienced this magical world for the first time (through the written word, I mean) I WENT CRAZYYY!! I would read it before going to bed IN BEDbefore going to school after schoolTHE WHOLE FUCKING DAY. Which was probably why I scored so less in Chemistry but that’s a different issue altogether! ;p

Having watched ALL of the movies as an 11 year old, I knew about the plot but NOTHING could have prepared me for the absolutely enchanting world that was waiting for me in those pages! OH THE MAGIC – it pulled me in FROM THE VERY FIRST SENTENCE. Rowling’s way of writing is just as gorgeous as the world she has created and THE FIRST TIME I JOURNEYED INTO IT, I wanted to lock the door behind me so that no one could come looking!

This one time, I took my copy of Order of The Phoenix into the bath – because mumma would’ve been FURIOUS had she seen me reading it during exams – and accidentally dropped it in water. I CRIED MY EYES OUT THAT DAY! But….it didn’t stop me from continuing the journey, of course.

My love affair with Harry Potter – the books AND the movies – is more than a decade old and with each passing re-read, it turns into something even more magical but BY GOD I WISH I COULD GO BACK IN TIME AND EXPERIENCE IT WITH FRESH EYES ALL OVER AGAIN!

I could talk on and on about how I used to imagine getting my very own Hogwarts letter, packing up, and leaving the boring muggle life behind me; how fascinated I was with their book-lists at the start of each term and how I jumped up and down with joy when I discovered Quidditch Through the Ages, Tales of Beedle the Brad, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them –

I could talk about all that RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW but that would take up WAY TOO MUCH SPACE so INSTEAD I have decided to choose the first Harry Potter book for the Bookish Obsessions for this month. AND IT’S GOING TO BE A HELL LOT OF FUN!!!

Soooooo??? ARE YOU READY to relive this magical book ONCE AGAIN, HUH??!?! 😉

[RE-READS] The little door and the golden key//Alice in Wonderland//

Imagine falling down a rabbit hole!
I could never!
I have way too many things to do during the day for an excursion like that!
What if I get late? Everyone will get mad at me for disappearing like that. And I am not sure I am that brave yet. 😥

But Alice was.

She went after that funny little rabbit with a waistcoat and a pocket watch. Oh my ears and whiskers, she followed him straight into the hole that was more of a magical tunnel going downward.

If I was Alice, I would have panicked my way into exhaustion and would definitely have fainted. But she didn’t. She was braver, you see. Far more clever than you and I could ever be! She knew all about latitudes and longitudes and EVEN THE EXACT DEPTH OF THE EARTH! ;p

How do you beat THAT?!

I can’t. I won’t. I just want to follow her adventure. And I did. It felt like a long, long time until the fall came to a stop.

[But I wonder – do bats eat cats? Or cats eat bats? Do they? Eat each other? What do you think? 😉 ]

A room full of locked doors and a golden key – lying there, in wait for Alice to grab it and turn the lock to a whole new world – gorgeous, magical. A garden – where all miracles happen. DUH. *rolls eyes*

But it was way too big for some of the doors, and way too small for the others.

Alice was confused. What was even the point of putting a key on the table that didn’t fit anywhere?! It was a question. A weird question. For who thinks of keys when there are lovelier things to dream about – like pictures in a book, or a walk with Dinah! 

Still her question was valid. Who was so stupid as to make a key with no lock to put it into? It’s a misfit. WHERE WILL IT GO?!

Without a lock, a key is useless. It’s ABSOLUTELY FUCKING USELESS. But wait – a key is always the answer to a question, isn’t it? A doorway to the other side, no matter what that side might be, where it might be. But the question must have been asked before the key was made, right?

Or maybe the key maker was just THAT dumb, making keys for his own amusement? Nah. xD

So Alice, little explorer as she was, went about the room trying to find some place to fit the key. And at last, she found it! YAY! A little door to which the key belonged! Why couldn’t she see it before though? It was RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER EYES!

Why is it that sometimes the opportunities to a better world, a better tomorrow are just standing in front of us , with open arms and we fail to see them? REALLY SEE THEM. Isn’t it strange the way our mind prioritises things? We are so lost in the mundane, the OBVIOUS that we forget to look at life with a fresh new perspective, with wonder, with hope.

It’s a miserable situation, for sure. IMAGINE IF Alice HAD FAILED TO FIND THE LITTLE DOOR! She would NEVER have found the way to the beautiful Wonderland! What a shame would that have been, wouldn’t it? Because then YOU AND I wouldn’t have been able to experience the wonders of Wonderland either. A bright new world slipped through our fingers unnoticed ALL BECAUSE WE COULDN’T SEE PAST THE USUAL BATTERED WAY OF DAILY PERCEPTION! 

I wonder now what little doors with magical worlds on the other side have WE left unnoticed, what new opportunities WE have missed just because we didn’t WANT to see them, just because we didn’t have the golden key of courage TO JUST TAKE THE RIGHT STEP!!

Get up, get up!
It’s time to get moving!
You are losing your wonderland because of your inability to SEE PAST THE OBVIOUS!!!

ASK ALICE! She knows. She has all the answers to ALL YOUR QUESTIONS – because she asked them first! 

Find the hidden door, unlock it with the golden key of faith and confidence and take a dive in the wonderland – it’s there. All around you. You just need to SEE.

This isn’t my first Alice in Wonderland re-read, you know. On the blog, the first one was wayyy back in 2017 AND IT WAS SOO MUCH FUN! ❤ But I find myself going back to this magical and witty story over and over again – always coming back with something new to ponder on!

IT’S SUCH A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!

How about you?
How many times have YOU read Alice in Wonderland, huh?! 😉
What’s one book that you go back to AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN – and it never gets old?! Apart from Pride and Prejudice, I mean! ;p

[MY BOOKISH OBSESSIONS] Grimm’s Fairy tales// The Three Snake-Leaves//

As I was browsing through my bookshelf, looking for something – ANYTHING – that would give me an idea for this month’s reading theme, my hands fell on the loveliest book ever – my collection of Grimm’s Fairy tales. 

The last time I read it was back in 2017! IT’S BEEN WAYY TOOO LONG and NOW I THINK IT’S TIME to bring back the REAL stuff, the dark clouds, the wicked hearts, and the gory details. 

Note: Stop eating. It’s going to get nasty here.

Oh, to be young and in love. And then die and take your lover with you. 

And I am not talking about the famous star crossed lovers. No, we are here to witness the wickedness of another fair maidenthe King’s daughterone who, above all else, wanted to live and die together with her lover.  Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?

She had taken a vow to only marry someone who would be willing to be buried alive with her should she die first. 

Wow! Talk about hopeful beginnings, huh? 🤣

Well, that’s what she wanted – absurd as it was – and what’s more? There was a man crazy in love enough to promise her that! He didn’t know what he was taking on. Perhaps he just thought that this was ther way of being hella romantic?

But he was wrong. She was serious. Deadly serious. Literally. Because the breath of life did leave her bodysoon after their marriage  – and he was then asked to be buried with her – to be locked up in a vault with a little bread and wine so that once it was over, he could lay himself beside his beloved’s body and say goodbye to the world as he knew it.

By this time, I was already way too creeped out. I mean the fact that he took food and water wine with him inside the vault, while the rotting body of his wife lay inches away from him made me gag! Did he expect to EAT stuff in the presence of a dead body?

But then, I suppose hunger makes you do lots of crazy things. Perhaps he would have started nibbling on her body too? Like those ugly maggots making their way out of eye sockets and mouth? 

Yeah, it’s gross. But hey, why should I be the only to get creeped out? If I am going down, I am taking everybody with me.

But he found a way out – both for himself AND his dead wife – The Magic of Three Snake Leavescontaining healing properties strong enough to even bring the dead back to life. 

I was in awe of the way the whole story was structured. Can you imagine something so creepy, so complete, so magical, and full of so much wisdom compressed in only one and a half pages? I was in love now. Impressed with The Brothers Grimm and their genius.

As the story progressed however, the kind and loving youth found himself at the end of the oceanbetrayed by his wife, who was no longer the same. Bringing people back from dead has it’s side effects, after all. Haven’t you read The Tales of Beedle The Bard? 

In the end, although his wife and her accomplice were punished for their wickedness against the man by the King, I wasn’t satisfied. Was she the real villain here? Was it really HER fault that she was brought back to life with a part of her soul probably forgotten?

What do you think?
Was her husband’s decision to bring her back wrong?
Didn’t he do it just to save himself? Of course any one of us would have chosen the same if presented with such a choice but even so. Was it all HER fault?
Who is the wicked one here?

Perhaps the snakes.

I told you about the three snake leaves, didn’t I? Well, when the man was alone with his dead wife in the vault, a snake crept in and made his way towards the body. The husband got angry and cut it into three pieces. Later another one came, and seeing that it’s companion was lying there all chop-sueyed- went away and came back with those three magical leaves which made the snake whole again, the same ones that the man later used to bring his wife back to life. 

I wonder now what had happened to that other snake. Perhaps he was the wicked one, giving the man glittering but false hope.

sigh

This is how reading these stories make me feel. ALWAYS. I am left with a dozen questions the answers to which come very slowly, if they ever come at all.

It’s an amazing experience, nonetheless. SUCH IMAGINATION! SUCH CREATIVITY!

But HEY! now I have YOU guys to discuss with. So, what do you think? 

[MONTHLY RE-READS] Cinderella// The Continuous Necessity of a Mother’s Love

The night was dark and the air was full of sorrow and gloom. The trees outside – swaying left to right – seemed to be lamenting something, perhaps a loss of someone dear? Of someone Ella would feel the absence of bitterly for the rest of her days?

Yes. It was a very dark and mysterious night indeed because Ella had just found out her mother was dead.

Imagine – a little girl whose life was the very definition of perfection; a girl who used to play carefree in the gardens like there was no tomorrow; a girl who loved listening to her mother’s stories above everything else; a girl whose existence was still dripped in innocence and a sweet naivety to the mean ways of the world – this little girl’s whole life had turned upside down in a matter of days. Such a realization doesn’t come easily to someone so young but when it comes, the pain is unbearable.

I felt such a pain when I thought about Ella wandering about the big, big halls of her house – now left cold and lonely without the heart-warming presence of her mother – trying to wrap her head around the painful fact that she will never hear her mother’s sweet voice call her name again; she will never be able to hug her, breathe in her sweet scent and relax in her embrace and fall asleep – gently tucked away from all the cruelties of the world.

All of that protection had been snatched away from Ella WAY TOO SOON and I couldn’t help but feel her repressed remorse way too bitterly. It was as if a fair share of Ella’s grief had been transferred to me – through those deceptively simple yet powerful words.

A mother’s importance is not easily understood. Sure we love her, adore her, care for her, loathe to part from her – but all of that is still not enough.

It just isn’t enough.

Ella’s parting from her mother was the turning point in her otherwise happy life. Everything was going to be very different from then on. She hadn’t even realized how she would crave for a single sweet word from her step-mother forever, and what saddens me is that it would never come. Not ever.

Can a child’s need for the love of her mother be fulfilled by another? I don’t think so.

A mother knows her child’s deepest desires, fondest dreams, shortcomings and strengths, likes, and dislikes – she knows all of that even better than she knows her own self. She is the very link that joins a child with the vast world. Break that and everything becomes devoid of colors; you become lonely on this earth full of wonderful people. Without the love of a mother, EVERYTHING stops making sense.

And to become devoid of that at such a young age? Tears got stuck in my throat as I thought about all the hardships Ella had to face – the ones we, the reader, were made privy to + the ones that we never ever knew about!

Such a sad, sad world it is without the loving shade of the woman who gifts us with life. And to still go on as Ella didhead high and hopes in her heart shows the kind of gentle courage that the world today is in dire need of.

So accept our humble thanks, dear Ella, for helping each and every one of us realize that there is beauty in every difficulty, love in every brush of the wind that blows across the wide sky.

And most importantly, for reminding us to be thankful for our dear, dear mothers – without whom the world would, indeed, be a very gloomy place to live in.


I didn’t read Cinderella – in it’s complete form – until a few years ago. It struck me how beautifully simple all these fairy tales are – and how they manage to make you FEEL with a keenness that even the most cleverly written books can’t rival!

And this year – with all it’s complexities and horrors – demanded a revisit to this beautiful story. ❤

How about YOU, though?
When was the first time you read Cinderella?
What’s your favorite fairy tale? Any suggestions for me? 😉 ❤ *heart eyes*
LET’S CHAT!